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February 12, 2004

Merchant Marine certification for Navy sailors

Navy News story by Journalist 1st Class Jd Walter, Naval Personnel Development Command Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- In an effort to translate Navy training and fleet experience into U.S. Coast Guard ratings and licenses, the Navy's Center for Surface Operations (CSO) announced a formal agreement between the two services in January.

The goal of the partnership is to provide Sailors greater opportunity for professional development and to provide them with recognized certifications from the Merchant Marine community.

"This is about giving our Sailors every opportunity to excel, number one," said CSO Commanding Officer Capt. Steven Johnson, "but also about putting something in their hands to prove their excellence outside the Navy, in the industry of their choice."

Enlisted Sailors within the Boatswain's Mate, Quartermaster, Operations Specialist and Mineman ratings or Seaman strikers now have the opportunity to apply for an Able-Bodied Seaman rating by using Navy course completion, training acquired through Personal Qualifications Standards (PQS), and sea duty to satisfy merchant marine training, certification, sea service and exam requirements.

In accordance with the agreement, any Sailor within the above ratings or Seaman Striker, completing Seaman Apprentice (SA) Training and having at least one year of sea duty for every five years of service will satisfy the written exam requirements, as well as the knot-tying practical exam for the Able-Bodied Seaman rating. Required training and sea time must have been received on or after Jan. 1, 1990.

The partnership also determined that any Sailor having completed recruit training and having at least one year of sea duty for every five years of service will be eligible for Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Basic Safety Training (BST) certification, with the exception of Immersion Suit Training. Recently, a two-hour Immersion Suit Training course was approved for Sailors at no cost on a space-available basis at certain Military Sealift Command (MSC) training facilities.

Sailors having completed Navy Final Lookout PQS 302 and Helmsman PQS 305 and having at least one year of sea duty for every five years of service will also be eligible for the STCW Rating Forming Part of a Navigational Watch (RFPNW) certification.

Essentially, Sailors who have completed SA Training, Recruit Training, Lookout and Helmsman final PQS and having at least one year of sea duty for every five years of service, and five years of cumulative Navy sea duty, need only to complete Immersion Suit Training and USCG Lifeboatman certification to apply for an Able-Bodied Seaman rating. Sailors who are not able to attend Immersion Suit Training or Lifeboatman certification at MSC training facilities may complete these requirements through a private vendor using Navy Tuition Assistance.

Additionally, Sailors in any Navy rating who have completed Recruit Training and Immersion Suit Training are eligible to apply for entry-level endorsements in the Merchant Marine, such as Ordinary Seaman, Wiper, Porter and others.

Currently, the Center for Surface Operations is seeking additional certifications that will make it possible for motivated Sailors to progress toward a Third Mate Merchant Marine Officer's license. The most recent effort by the center to secure Merchant Marine Officer-level certifications resulted in the approval of Navy Advanced Fire Fighting Training, Repair Party Leader School, and Repair Party Leader PQS 318 to meet the requirement of STCW Advanced Fire Fighting certification. Required training must have been received on or after Aug. 1, 1996.

"While the missions of the Navy, the Coast Guard and the Merchant Marines are distinct, we are all seagoing services, and can all share experiences and expertise with each other," said Johnson. "This is about giving all Sailors the opportunity to excel."

To learn more about U.S. Coast Guard certification opportunities, log onto Navy Knowledge Online at and visit the Center for Surface Operations page.

For related news, visit the Naval Personnel Development Command/Task Force EXCEL Navy NewsStand page at

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